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Arabic/Unknown word transliterated as "hufuf?"


Hello and respectful greetings from one of the Abd-al-Kitab -- there is no God but God, the Compassionate, the Merciful -- and do thou fear the Fire whose fuel is of men and stones, which is prepared for those who reject Faith. When they are among the Believers they say "We believe," but when they go apart to their demons then they say "We are with you, we but dissembled." For upon their eyes their is a covering, and wether thou warnest them or wether thou warnest them not, it is all one to them -- they will not believe.

Now my sister, my question is this one -- in the book by the famous Frank Herbert which is called Dune, in 1954 there was no basis for anyone to imagine that the lenses on the best binoculars in the future might be shaped by ferrofluids, by tiny machine actuators, or by nanotechnology. This was because, for example, nobody had thought of nanotechnology yet. So in the story, Herbert said that the future lenses were pushed into the proper shape by advanced forcefield technology, and that inside these lenses there was what he called "hufuf oil," described as some (imaginary) special oil the optical qualities of which were almost completely perfect.

Now, many people know Herbert used many Arabic words, and used altered versions of them, in that book. You can read for example that people say qullahuwallahu ahad, though in a different form because tens of thousands of years have passed. And there are many, many other wods changed in a like manner. One example -- Fremen people were once slaves, but they rose up and won, and when it happened again, they  sufferred horribly but won again, again, again... And they devised cunning dart guns with poison to fight. Now, over time the Arabic word "maula," for master, has become the Fremen word for "slave," and the word for "slave," became the word for "master." This was presumably in part because it is written "the meek shall inherit the Earth" (and/or other planets besides). So then, even though the people who use them are not slaves anymore, still everyone calls the dart pistols that the Fremen people invented by the name "maula pistols" (which would be something like "musaddasat al-mawlanim," I suppose.)

But this word "hufuf," as in the supposed "hufuf oil," I do not know it. Therefore I ask, my sister, would you please explain it to me?

Thank you very much.

Dear Julian,

I understand where you are coming from but I don't agree with what you said about Arabic words changing with time. Arabic is a complicated language which is based on roots and derivatives. This is why Mawla مولى means master and Muwali موالي means follower or slave. The two words have same origins. This is why if you want to inquire about an Arabic word you got to know it in Arabic with Arabic letters. Hufuf can be هفوف or حفوف or هفوف or حفوف.

So I need the Arabic word to answer your question.

Discussing Arabic in English doesn't work.

My apologies.




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Sirine Malas


I can answer questions related to Syrian culture especially Damascene. I can also answer questions about "Arabic" cultures in general. I can answer in English, French and of course in Arabic.


I m a native.

Layalina English Magazine - BBC Arabic short story award

BA in Marketing

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